Arrow to the SunJust today I saw a mention of a blog/resource that’s worth a look – Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature. Reese teaches in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s American Indian Studies Program, and teachers and librarians can thank her for sharing a Native American perspective on a topic that many of us in the field can find confusing.

For example, I’ve over the years used a lot of Native American stories, adapting them for storytelling and puppet shows. Reese feels that a lot of the Native culture of specific Indian nations gets lost when artists and writers change stories to satisfy their artistic styles. “We’re all products of a society that romanticizes American Indians,” she says. (An example of a book she finds problems with is Gerald McDermott’s Arrow to the Sun – see the picture.)

I know that some of the things she brings up prick the consciences of those who aren’t Native Americans but still want to use materials on American Indian cultures in our classrooms and libraries. But she gets us thinking about them, and maybe taking another look at the stories and nonfiction materials we’re using. And that’s good.